Cavs would like to bring Kyle Korver back, but taxes are an issue
As most fans of the team know, Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is not afraid to cut a check. In fact, the Cavs have been above the tax threshold since LeBron James‘ return in the summer of 2014, making them what the NBA calls a “repeater” team. Any team that breeches the salary cap in consecutive seasons is financially penalized with a higher rate for every dollar over the tax line they spend on players. At their current rate, the Cavs are slated to shell out nearly $128 million for the 10 players who are under contract. Next season’s projected salary cap is $99 million, with the projected tax line at $119 million. So, as you can see, the Cavs will likely be over the cap once again.
Despite the aforementioned tax problems, Gilbert’s spending resulted in Cleveland’s first championship in 52 years. However, the Cavs’ financial woes could be an issue this offseason. According to our friends at cleveland.com, Gilbert will be forced to pay roughly $3.88 on every dollar he spends above $128 million until the payroll reaches $139 million. Furthermore, each dollar spent above the $139 million mark will carry a $4.75 tax penalty for Gilbert, as well as a 50 cent increase for every additional $5 million.
Cleveland’s financial circumstances could have an impact on their ability to retain certain players, including 36-year-old veteran sharpshooter Kyle Korver, who led the NBA in three-point percentage last season (49%). With free agency looming on the horizon (July 1st), the Cavs will need to figure out a way to keep the former Creighton Blue Jay on-board. According to most reports, both Korver and the Cavs have a mutual interest in staying together.
What can the Cavs offer Korver, you ask? Well, not much. However, one silver lining is that the Cavs do have Korver’s “Bird” rights, which means they could potentially offer him more than the $5.2 million he made last season.
In their current state, the Cavs can offer a free agent the veteran’s minimum (roughly $1.6 million, depending on years of service), or the taxpayer’s mid-level exception to the salary cap, worth $5.1 million. They also have two trade exceptions, one valued at $4.8 million, the other worth $2.2 million.
Initially, when Korver was traded to the Cavaliers from the Atlanta Hawks in February, he seemed a bit uneasy. However, it wasn’t long before he found a niche with his new team. Now, the four-time three-point percentage leader has become one of Cleveland’s go-to shooters in spot-up and drive-and-kick scenarios. Opposing sides know they can’t leave Korver open on the perimeter, lest they pay the price in rapid-release buckets.
It’s hard to say what sort of dollar amount a player of Korver’s caliber will demand in this year’s free agent market. Other teams will certainly be interested in his services, and he’ll have to weigh his options carefully. Sure, another team may be willing to offer him more money, but will they be in contention for the Larry O’Brien trophy in June? Korver just made his first trip to the Finals and seems to be comfortable in his role with the Cavaliers. If anyone can pull the strings that would keep Korver in Cleveland, it’s Gilbert.